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Germany rejects most asylum applications submitted by ethnically Kurdish Turkish citizens: report

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Germany accepted only 11.5 percent of asylum applications from Turkish citizens identifying as ethnic Kurds in the first three months of 2022, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Friday, citing data from the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).

According to DW, although the number of Kurds from Turkey who applied for asylum makes up over 78 percent of the applications submitted by Turkish nationals in January, February and March of this year, only 11.5 percent of their applications were accepted, despite Turks’ acceptance rate of 34.1 percent in the same period.

Among 2,979 asylum applications submitted by Turkish nationals in the first three months of 2022 are 2,328 people identifying as ethnic Kurds, a figure corresponding to over 78 percent of the whole and the highest rate in the past five years, according to BAMF data.

It’s noteworthy that despite a significant decrease in the number of political asylum seekers from Turkey due to the coronavirus pandemic within the past few years, the number of applications submitted by Turkish citizens identifying as Kurds had gradually increased in the same period.

In 2021, 7,873 Turkish citizens applied for asylum in Germany, with 57.43 percent of them – 4,522 people – identifying as Kurds, BAMF data further showed.

While Germany accepted 73.6 percent of asylum applications submitted by Turks last year, the acceptance rate of Kurds was at 10.7 percent.

In the years 2017, 2018 and 2019, when arrivals to Germany increased after an attempted coup on July 15, 2016, the rate of Kurds among political asylum seekers from Turkey was below 50 percent, according to BAMF.

Speaking to DW Turkish service on Friday, Clara Bünger from the opposition Left Party (Die Linke) criticized the German government’s stance on the issue, saying most of the asylum applications submitted by Kurds are being rejected in an environment where officials from the German government often state that the situation of leftists and Kurdish dissidents in Turkey is very worrying.

Bünger said the BAMF should immediately and radically change the way it assesses asylum applications and recognize the dangers Kurdish activists face in Turkey, emphasizing that they need protection.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s crackdown on Kurds and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which intensified after a truce between Kurdish militants and Ankara collapsed in 2015, grew even stronger after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan survived a coup attempt in July 2016 that was followed by a sweeping political crackdown.

Both the AKP and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), frequently accuse the HDP, the second-largest opposition group in parliament, of ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The party denies the government’s claim and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s so-called Kurdish issue.

The Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse, refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition.

The party currently faces a closure case on charges of “attempting to destroy the indivisibility between the state and the people.”

Hundreds of HDP politicians, including the party’s former co-chairs, are behind bars on terrorism charges, while most of the 65 HDP mayors elected in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast in 2019 have been replaced by government-appointed trustees.

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